Skip to main content

CR3 # 28: Shadows in the Asylum: The Case Files of Dr. Charles Marsh by Dave Stern

I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this book. It appeared in a list of recommendations based on some of my recent mental hospital-heavy choices, and the description sounded intriguing. The book had its ups and downs, but on the whole it's an interesting read.

The story is that of Dr. Charles Marsh, a psychiatrist working in an asylum in northern Wisconsin. His first patient is a young girl who had a bad experience out on one of the islands near the asylum. When Dr. Marsh first arrives, she is beginning to have visions of "shadows" that are coming out of the walls and threatening her. Dr. Marsh of course starts out believing that these are mere hallucinations, but soon he is forced to consider other possibilities. As this is going on, it also begins to spread to some of his other patients. Dr. Marsh takes it on himself to document what is happening and what it all might mean.

The book is written in an epistolary style--the story is told via Dr. Marsh's notes, transcripts of his sessions with patients, historical documents, newspaper articles, and various other bits of paper. It's a really interesting way of doing things, though in the middle the story seems to drag a big before winding up to its disturbing conclusion. The format does keep things moving along surprisingly well, by cutting back and forth between the different patients and Dr. Marsh's interpretation of what might be occurring.

This isn't a book for people who like their scares to be gory, violent, or graphic. In this case it is more about atmosphere and creepiness. It's also just interesting to read because the format is one I don't see very often, though it seems to work quite well for this style of book. I'd give this a conditional recommendation--the style and subject matter are not for everyone, but some may enjoy it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CR3 # 17: Mount Misery by Samuel Shem

Mount Misery is the sequel to Samuel Shem's first book, House of God (review here). It follows Dr. Roy Basch as he leaves the House of God and moves to psychiatric hospital Mount Misery to begin his psychiatric residency. Unfortunately, it turns out that psychiatrists are just as crazy, confused, and often detrimental as medical doctors. As Dr. Basch cycles through the various sectors of the hospital (talk therapy, admissions, Freudian Analysis, drug therapy) he is horrified to discover that it seems everything he is being taught is not only wrong, but potentially dangerous. He begins to fall into terrible patterns of behavior, mirroring the problems his patients are having. Each area is worse than the last, with one doctor who thinks the best way to treat is to be aggressively hostile, one who cares only about insurance premiums and efficiency, one who treats with silence and "regression," and one who thinks the only viable treatment is to pump every patient full of exp…

CBR9 #2 - Southern Gods

I've had Southern Gods on my TBR list for so long I no longer remember why I put it there. Was it a recommendation from Amazon? From Goodreads? Did someone I know recommend it? Did it cross my path as a "If you liked __________ then you'll like this too!"

Maybe I heard it through the grapevine?

I only know that recently, I happened to come across it on my wishlist and decided to go ahead and splurge on it.

I'm glad I did.

In 1951 Memphis, war veteran and leg-breaker-for-hire Bull Ingraham gets a new assignment: a record company has lost one of their employees somewhere. Early Freeman set off to deliver new records to radio stations, and has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. His boss at Helios Records is anxious to find him...and also anxious to find a mysterious blues musician whose music can do terrible things to the living -- and to the dead.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, Sarah Rheinhart leaves her abusive husband and returns to her family home, where …

CR3 #30: The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith

I saw the movie of The First Wives Club before I read the book. It's a cute chick flick, in which scorned women take comedic revenge on their former spouses. They become better friends and everyone winds up happy in the end. I was somewhat surprised (though not much--the differences between film and literature are often wide) at how different the book was--I am used to changes in plot or small character changes (combining two characters into one, or perhaps changing to a more pleasant ending) but the major change here between novel and movie was the tone.

The story is basically the same; After a close friend's suicide, three middle-aged female friends get together and beginning reviewing their lives. They realize that much like their late friend, they have been screwed over by the men in their lives--the men used them to get to their high social and financial positions, then screwed them over both personally and financially. The three women decide to use their wits and their co…